Mark centric, but does include Roger and Mimi as well.

A/N: This lurked on my hard drive forever (it one of my first Rent pieces written over two years ago) and I finally decided it could come out and play even though my writing style has changed a bit since then. :)


It simply wouldn't work.

He'd been working on it for days and frustration had worn him down.

"Damn button," Mark muttered as he threw the screwdriver. A heavy thud resounded as it hit the wall and fell to the floor. He sighed.

"Still broken, huh?" Roger didn't look up from his guitar.

"It's all your fault."

"You're the one who asked me to hold it and keep shooting." He still didn't look up.

"I didn't –" Mark broke off, knowing he'd never win with Roger. Instead he flopped in a chair. Three days ago, he'd been shooting outside the loft, when he realized he was close to running out of tape. In the middle of a decent creative spurt, he was reluctant to turn the camera off, even for a minute. He handed it to Roger, and when he returned, Mimi was on the scene and the camera was on the ground.

Lately, Roger lost all thought when she was around.

"Going out," he declared and opened the door before Roger could, if he was going to, respond. He bypassed Mimi on the way up and simply nodded. He was relieved he was on his way out. He could only stand their make-out sessions to a degree before feeling the need to retreat to his room. Recently, he found it difficult to distinguish between Roger and Mimi and a pair of rabbits.
He reached into his pockets, hoping to hit upon some cash. Satisfied at the few dollars he discovered, he turned toward the Life Café. Without his camera, his mind wandered more than usual, something he could live without. Good memories were one thing, but his mind tended to linger on not-so-great moments. Plus, Roger and Mimi just reminded him of his own single status.
You could probably benefit from a little action, Cohen, he told himself as he sat at his usual little table. The waitress eyed him and sighed loudly.

"You again."

Yep, he sure felt loved.

Across the room, a brown-haired women twirled her spoon in her own glass, the look on her face expressing Mark's own inner thoughts at the moment. He looked away after a brief moment; he didn't want to stare. Instead he turned to the window. The sky that had been blue moments before was now gray and threatening rain.

His mood was spreading.

He almost laughed out loud at his revelation.

He eyed his own cup and noticed a newspaper on the table. He figured the customer before him had read it and left. He glanced up again. The brunette shifted her head, her gaze turned to the window. In a move Mark hadn't anticipated, she turned his way and he immediately tore his eyes from her.

You're not in junior high, he reminded himself as resumed staring down at his cup.

"The meaning of life ain't in there."

Mark looked up as the waitress refilled his cup. "You gonna pay this time?"

He didn't answer; instead he reached into his pocket and threw a couple of crumpled bills on the table. The waitress sighed and left.

He felt like a disappointment.

Currently, he had no camera and no guts to even meet a girl's gaze from across the room. His fingers trailed the table top, resting on the left-over newspaper. The comics caught his eye.
Charlie Brown, he decided. Right at that moment, he felt like Charlie Brown. Forever doing nothing right, the kid who could have "failure" as his middle name.

He has a good heart, he told himself. Yet, he too, couldn't meet a girl's eyes. He remembered reading the comic when he was little. Looking at it now, he almost laughed. Reading it in his teenage years, he had always thought that an older Charlie Brown would probably be seriously depressed and on Prozac.

Well, at least he wasn't on Prozac.

He left the remainder of his tea and the newspaper behind as he left the table, walking outside and down the block. He made it one block when the skies opened up. Large raindrops fell, giving no mercy to whatever they hit.

Yep, Charlie Brown.

The sound of rain pelting the streets was the sky's answer to his thoughts. At first, he thought of heading back to the loft, but quickly dismissed the idea. He was already wet, and this time had no camera to protect. It was either the rain or Roger and Mimi.

The rain won.

He hurried down the block, no even caring about his destination, when he stepped in a puddle. He looked down and was ready to sulk, when he suddenly smiled and found the next puddle and jumped. Water sprayed up and he got a picture of his sister, Cindy screaming "Mom! Mark got me wet!" He jumped in another puddle.

He was soaked. It was late November and cold. He'd probably catch pneumonia.

He didn't care.

Charlie Brown dealt with it. He could, too.

Smiling, he turned around and headed back to the loft. He climbed the stairs and decided that he didn't care if he caught Roger and Mimi on the couch.

Funny how rain could change his mood.

He opened the door, and was surprised to find Mimi on the couch alone, reading what looked like a set of directions. Roger was at the table, hunched over Mark's camera.
"Well, according to what the guy said, it should work after – oh, hi, Mark." Mimi looked up at him and got up from the couch and tossed the paper at Roger and stood in front of the table.
"What are you doing?"

"Fixing." Roger picked up the camera and turned it on. "Works." He pointed the camera at Mark. "Zoom in on Mark's shocked face when he finds out that Roger can fix his camera," he teased. "It's not too hard. Maybe you can play around with my guitar."

"You'd let me touch it?" Mark teased, the smile returning to his face again. He took the camera from Roger to turn it on him and Mimi. "Close on Roger and Mimi, who are going to explain how they managed to fix something I've been unable to."

Mimi shrugged. "She used her seductive voice to get a guy from a repair store downtown dictate possible repair solutions," Roger explained. "I should be jealous."

"Don't go there," Mimi warned as she moved closer to Roger. Roger smiled.

"Hey, Mark, I got something you can get on film-"

"Forget it." He lowered the camera. "That's something you film yourself."

"Kinky."

Mark laughed and headed back toward his room, ready to leave Roger and Mimi to their own little world. Before he reached the door, he turned back.

"Roger?"

"Yeah?" He looked up from Mimi's gaze.

"Thanks."

He simply shrugged. "I did break it, after all."

"Thanks."

Roger looked bewildered at his statement, but Mark ignored it and entered his room. He placed the camera on the tripod by his door and closed the door behind it. He flipped the camera on again and stood in front it.

"Charlie Brown did have some great friends," he said to the camera, knowing that two months from now he'd probably look at the film and be confused as hell at those words.

He turned the camera off again.

Somehow, though, he doubted it.